Ever wonder who has exclusive ownership of the phrase “Back that ass up”?
In its Jan. 13 opinion, the 5th Circuit sets out the following facts: In 1997, both rappers recorded songs with similar titles—D.J. Jubilee, also known as Jerome Temple, recorded “Back That Ass Up,” while Juvenile, also known as Terius Gray, recorded “Back That Azz Up.”
After a 2003 trial, a jury ruled in favor of defendant Juvenile, finding that D.J. Jubilee failed to prove that his version of “Back That Ass Up” was substantially similar to Jubilee’s version of “Back That Azz Up.”
D.J. Jubilee appealed to the 5th Circuit, arguing that many of the jury instructions were flawed, including instructions on substantial similarity, specifically when applied to the use of the phrase “back that ass up.”
Juvenile believed that the songs were substantially different and used different hooks; D.J. Jubilee’s hook was the phrase “back that ass up” while Juvenile’s was a sample from the Jackson 5′s song “I Want You Back.” But D.J. Jubilee believed the jury should have been instructed to review specific portions of both songs, rather than both songs as a whole, according to the 5th Circuit’s opinion.
The appeals court disagreed with D.J. Jubilee’s arguments and affirmed the jury’s verdict. The jury, as instructed, likely believed that the hook in Juvenile’s song was not the phrase “back that ass up” but rather a sample from the Jackson 5′s song, according to the opinion.
“And that belief would explain why the jury determined that the songs are not substantially similar,” wrote King in an opinion joined by Judges Jerry Smith and Emilio Garza. “Accordingly, we cannot say that the jury instruction, even if it had been erroneous, probably resulted in an incorrect verdict.”
Next week: Who the phrase “I’m Rick James, bitch!”? Dave Chappelle, or the estate of Rick James?